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The Minnesota Daily

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Badroos: Save The Silver Screen

PSA: Go to your local cinema, alone or otherwise, and watch movies at the actual movies.
Image by Ava Weinreis

Once nickelodeons were introduced to the public, the world of stories changed forever.

The big theater doors get drawn back as picture-goers make their way down the red-carpeted aisles, filing into their seats and waiting for the lights to dim. Anticipation floods the room, with the film reel rolling its way onto the giant silver screen in sequenced light blocks.

The magic of pictures was born at the movies, not on your estranged aunt’s Netflix account.

Movies are to be appreciated in a medium apart from their music and theater counterparts. It’s not live, nor on wax. Cinemas are a time capsule, transporting our attention to a variety of settings and circumstances.

There are no distractions in the cinema, and the pause in the usual chaos of our lives becomes filled with stories of victory, heartbreak and elegance. Could you imagine watching “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on an iPad?

Tragically, the luxury of seeing a show at the locally-owned cinema is now in decline. Nobody wants to put effort into seeing a film in theaters anymore because of the current microwave era of content. With fast-paced media in short segments dominating feeds across the country, the idea of sitting down for a full-length story loses its luster.

The age of streaming has torn the silver screen in half, prompting people to watch movies from their tablets and laptops due to convenience and accessibility. No one tells Martin Scorsese about this.

The pandemic was detrimental enough for movie theaters, and streaming services took advantage and changed the culture around watching movies. Platforms like Netflix and Hulu have incorporated an algorithm-based process in what movies are being watched and when.

The magic is absent, and cinephiles are hurting.

According to The Theatrical and Home Entertainment Market Environment (THEME) report, the mobile entertainment market saw a $32.3 billion year in 2021. This figure was a 7% increase from the previous year; as a result, all physical media sales saw a 20% drop in market value.

The hard copy is dead, and streaming services are cashing in.

The box office market in the United States and Canada saw a $4.5 billion year in 2021, according to the THEME report. This is a far cry from the pre-pandemic box office market values of the past 10 years, which showed an average yearly yield of $11.2 billion.

Middle budget films suffered most from this drop off and were replaced by films from the go-big-or-go-home model of movie making. Big-budget movies, then, became the standard in widely released formats in a post-pandemic market.

These numbers play a significant role in what types of movies are being made for theatrical release. Original stories were much more prevalent in theaters before the streaming era because the physical release would fulfill the project’s financial needs even if they were missed at the box office.

This return on investment is now at risk because of the perceived futility of physical media. This limits wide theatrical releases to safer options – often involving unoriginal, regurgitated scenarios, like The Rock in a jungle.

Filmmakers have never looked favorably upon complete studio dependence. This prompts more low-budget, independent works to self sustain through a limited release distribution format at locally-owned theaters and respected film festivals.

Your local AMC probably wouldn’t be showing “Eraserhead” if it were to come out tomorrow. That’s why it’s so important to support the local cinema: to keep smaller stories alive. Because, let’s face it, a world of only Superhero and Netflix “original” movies is monotonous.

The wonder of “Amélie” and the spectacle of “Arrival” could never be replicated on a device from home. Why is the American public letting the event of going out to the movies die when it’s been such a rich part of the nation’s cultural accomplishments?

In a world that’s become warped by meaningless online content and quick-click media, preserving the art of storytelling should be a top priority. The way to protect these stories is to protect their sanctuaries. Jean Renoir didn’t make “The Rules of the Game” for you to watch a new release on your laptop while scrolling Tik Tok.

Movies are simply better in theaters, at the big show. The inevitable rapid development of technology does not need to replace over 100 years of spectacle.

So take a trip to the movies, alone or otherwise. Get lost in the labyrinth of stories and tune out anything besides the silver screen. Cut to Guillermo Del Toro’s “I believe in cinema” speech.

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